ISRAEL - LEBANON: Israeli warplanes are pounding Lebanon, hitting southern Beirut and bridges leading to the north of the country. Lebanese officials say at least three people were killed in today's (Friday's) bombardment. Israeli jets bombed several villages in southern Lebanon, as well as Hezbollah strongholds in southern Beirut. Meanwhile, thousands of Israeli ground troops are also fighting Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon. Unconfirmed reports say at least five Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting today (Friday). The Israeli army has not commented on the reported deaths. Officials in Israel say one civilian has died in a Hezbollah rocket attack today in the north of the country. On Thursday, Hezbollah fired more than more than 150 rockets into northern Israel, killing eight civilians.
IRAQ: Iraqi police say violence today (Friday) in northern Iraq has killed at least 19 people. Police in Mosul say bomb attacks and fierce fighting in the city killed at least nine people. Authorities say at least three of the dead are police. South of Mosul, a suicide bomber killed 10 people at a football (soccer) field in Hadrah. Meanwhile, thousands of Shi'ite followers of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of Baghdad today (Friday) for a pro-Hezbollah rally.
AFGHANISTAN: The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan says at least 25 Taleban rebels have been killed during a joint military operation with Afghan troops. A coalition statement today (Friday) says the clash happened Thursday in southern Helmand province. A roadside bomb exploded today near a NATO convoy in southern Kandahar province, but no injuries were reported. Three NATO soldiers from Canada were killed Thursday by Taleban insurgents in Kandahar. In a separate incident in the same province, a suicide attacker drove a bomb-laden car into a crowded market, killing at least 21 people and wounding 13 others.
BUSH - CUBA: President Bush is urging Cubans to work for democratic change in their communist-ruled country, saying the United States is absolutely committed to supporting their aspirations for democracy and freedom. Mr. Bush was making his first public comments on the situation in Cuba since Cuban President Fidel Castro temporarily relinquished power Monday to his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, due to abdominal surgery. Mr. Bush said in a statement Thursday he encourages all democratic nations to unite in support of the right of the Cuban people to define a democratic future for their country.
ISRAEL - LEBANON DIPLOMACY: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she believes the U.N. Security Council could agree on a resolution to end the Israel - Hezbollah fighting within days. Rice said (on CNN's Larry King Live Thursday) U.S. and French officials have been working to put in place an enduring ceasefire and peace. Differences between the United States and France have slowed progress on a resolution.
BURMA - CHINA BANK: Chinese state media say Burma has asked China for help in reforming its banking system. The Xinhua news agency reports Burmese prime minister General Soe Win made the request Thursday during a meeting with Chen Yuan, president of the China Development Bank. The Burmese prime minister said his country could learn from China's experience with its own banking reforms.
CAMBODIA - HIV: A court in Cambodia has sentenced an H.I.V.-positive man to 10 years in prison for having sex with his wife without using a condom. Today's (Friday's) conviction is the first by Cambodia under a landmark law passed in 2003. It allows courts to jail people for 10 to 15 years for knowingly infecting or trying to infect others with the virus that causes AIDS.
The man was arrested in January after his wife complained to police that he refused to use condoms during sex, even though he had been confirmed as having H.I.V. Prosecutors said that when the wife refused sex, her husband beat and raped her.
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